Two Ukrainians and an acoustic guitar. If that lineup makes you imagine some sort of horrifying New Age world folk experience, possibly involving yodelling, think again. 5’Nizza (pronounced piatnitza) use their limited instrumental palette to create an oddly satisfying mixture of hip hop, reggae, rock, folk, and whatever else pops into their heads at the moment. In fact, between the layers of overdubbed vocals and liberal use of beatboxing, their music can get pretty elaborate. I don’t know much about their biography, since all that crap is in Russian, but they formed in 1998 and, as of 2005, have released two albums. I can’t really comment on their lyrics either, since all but a few scattered English phrases are in Russian or Ukrainian. For the purpose of these reviews, let’s pretend they’re really good.
You know, these guys have just hit on a fun thing, dammit. Melodic pop songs, goofy rapping, and random reggae and latin rhythms, all stuck together for no clear reason over a bed of beatboxing and lazy acoustic strumming. It works because these guys are simply good at what they do, mixing things up, tossing out catchy melodies, and, amusingly, appropriating others via “sampling”—i.e., humming.
With well over an hour of music, half of which doesn’t leave much of an impression, the band could have stood to exercize some quality control. But how many artists ever do? It’s all worth it for great little tracks like “Strela” and the duo’s positively zany eponymous theme song. The epic “Zima”, on the other hand, sounds like it might actually be about something serious—perhaps a tragic encounter with the titular pseudo-beer.
It’s not too different from their self-titled album, but 0’5 is a noticeable improvement on its predecessor, so I don’t mind. I recently found a review on a Ukrainian website which compared this album favorably to vodka—which is probably more endorsement than I have the power to give.
You know the drill by now, but this album is simply shorter, sweeter, and catchier. Hooks are everywhere, and the album changes up enough to never wear out its welcome. A couple tracks don’t quite get off the ground, but nothing here is actively boring. Several tracks continue in the successful atmospheric vein of “Zima”, bringing in a greater variety of production. They even replace the acoustic guitar with an electric for the last track. I suspect they’ll need to find some truly new tricks to get away with a third album of this stuff, but for now it fucking works. This is just an utterly fun, laid-back album, and one of the most purely enjoyable things I’ve heard in 2005.